Kennedy Half Dollar Facts (1964 To Date)
Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions
Kennedy Half Dollar Facts:

The Kennedy Half Dollar design started it's run in 1964, replacing the Franklin Half Dollar's run of 14 years. The 1964 issue is the only business strike (struck for circulation) with a planchet made of 90%. Also, in the same year, there were proof issues, and some ultra rare SMS (Special Mint Sets). They were minted at Philadelphia Mint without a mint mark and the Denver Mint with a D mint mark on the reverse and under the eagle's talon.

The 1964 proof design first had Accented Hair but was soon changed to a less-detailed hair version. So the Accented Hair was the first, and highly sought after, variety of the Kennedy Half Dollar series.

The issues of 1965-1970 were clad in silver/copper composition and silver/copper core that roughly equals to 40% silver and 60% copper. The 1965-1967 were issued as business strikes and in Special Mint Sets, the 1968-S and 69-S were issued in proof sets and the 1968-D, 69-D and were issued as business strikes and in mint sets. The 1970-D was only issued in mint sets and the 1970-S was only issued in proof sets.

Collectors look for cameo and deep cameo SMS and proof Kennedy Halves from 1965-1970 since they bring a higher premium. It's also difficult to find Kennedy Halves in the higher MS grades and they do bring a premium as well. The business strikes and mint set coins tend to have numerous contact marks so cherry picking for high grades examples is a hobby of itself.

Starting in 1971 to the present Kennedy Halves are copper/nickel clad without any silver content, the exception is the select Bicentennial Proofs and Special Issue (3 coin sets) that contain a 40% silver composition. In addition, the 1992-S to date "black box" proof sets have a silver composition of 90% silver. The silver 1992-1998 were issued in black boxes and the 1999 to date are in "red" boxes.

There's a couple popular varieties for the clad issues which are the 1979-S with a Clear S mint mark and the 1981-S with a Flat S and they bring a premium over the "filled" S or normal mint mark examples. Also, the mint issued a silver Matte Finish 1998-S with a low mintage and is the most valuable, uncertified, Kennedy Half Dollar.

Gilroy Roberts designed the obverse portrait, Frank Gasparro designed the reverse and Seth G. Huntington designed the reverse of the one year, Bicentennial issue design. Gasparro's initials are FG and located on the reverse, and under the right eagle's leg and is not to be confused as a mint mark. Huntington's designer initials are located under E Pluribus Unum.

Cherry Picker's List:

1964 The Accented Hair variety has sharply incised hair above Kennedy's ear and is found only as a Proof.  The Doubled Die obverse is available both as a circulation strike and as a Proof.  The Doubled Die reverse is known only in Proof.
1964-D Doubled Die obverse and Doubled Die reverse varieties exist.
1974-D Look for the Doubled Die Obverse varieties.
1776-1976 Four Proofs were struck without mint marks.
1979-S Issued only in Proof Sets.  The "Type I" has an indistinct mint mark that looks like a blob.  The mint mark on the "Type 2" is clear and distinct.

Designer: Obverse by Gilroy Roberts; reverse by Frank Gasparro

Diameter: 31 millimeters

Metal content:
Silver - 90%
Copper - 10%

Weight: 193 grains (12.5 grams)

Edge: Reeded

Mint mark: None (for Philadelphia, PA)
left of the stem of the olive branch on the reverse


40% SILVER (CLAD) PLANCHETS (1965-1970)

Designer: Obverse by Gilroy Roberts; reverse by Frank Gasparro

Diameter: 31 millimeters

Metal content:
Outer layers - 75% Copper, 25% Nickel
Center - 100% Copper

Weight: 175 grains (11.3 grams)

Edge: Reeded

Mint mark: "S" (for San Francisco, CA) centered above the date

Designer: Obverse by Gilroy Roberts; reverse by Seth Huntington

Diameter: 31 millimeters

Metal Content:
Outer layers - 80% Silver, 20% Copper
Center - 79% Copper, 21% Silver

Weight: 178 grains (11.5 grams)

Edge: Reeded

Mint mark: "S" (for San Francisco, CA) centered above the date


1964 "Accented Hair" Proof I
1964 Normal I
Mint mark location 1968 to present
Mint mark location 1964-1967
1964 SMS MS67 Kennedy Half Dollar Image
1964 Accented Hair Obverse
1776-1976 Reverse Design
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